Ask Catherine: Best jeans for work, how to wear Parisian chic

In this regular feature, Chatelaine's beauty and fashion editor, Catherine Franklin, finds solutions to all your style questions

Alvaro Goveia

Dear Catherine,
Come fall, I like to wear layers but don’t want to look bulky. What do you suggest?

A: Stylish layering is a true talent and there are a lot of factors to think about depending on the look you’re after. Always put the lightest thing close to your skin and add weight as you go. Slinky t-shirts and soft blouses are easy pieces to use as basics. Start with a tank top underneath, then add a sweater or jacket over top. Right now there are a lot of interesting patterns and textures. If you want to get creative, mix plaids, stripes, polka dots and florals. This can look fabulous if all the pieces are in the same colour family. It’s also cool to layer a cropped jacket over a longer shirt or knit. If you are layering for warmth there are amazing technical fabrics that are super thin and will keep you dry and comfortable when you are being active.

Dear Catherine,
I work in a laid-back, creative environment and am looking to invest in a few pairs of new jeans. What do you suggest (besides high-waisted pants!).

A: The jean market has been blown wide open this season. Classic blues are taking the back seat to the new variety of coloured jeans in cotton, cord and velvet fabrics – it’s the 5-pocket slim jean revived. Affordable but slightly dressed up, treat these new styles just like a regular jean. They’re also an easy way to add colour to your wardrobe without making a huge investment. One wonders why this hasn’t happened before now.

Dear Catherine,
I want to look chic and French. Can you suggest a few items I can buy now to help me achieve this fashion goal?
Thanks, Sam

A: There are certainly some key pieces that can help you achieve that chic Parisian style. A patterned silk scarf a la Hermes, stripes, cropped pants, ballerina flats, chain belts, patent pumps, shirts with a manish edge and definitely a narrow pencil skirt.  Or if you really want to go to the extreme, think Coco Chanel and get yourself a chic little suit.

Dear Catherine,
Winter footwear confounds me and here’s why: I love ballet flats, but you simply cannot wear them with socks (am I right?) and thus how can I wear them when it’s cold out? And if I’m not wearing boots or ballet flats, what kind of shoes can I wear with jeans and socks? Please help!

A: Don’t toss your flats out just because it’s winter. Socks, no – but hose, yes. Opaque hose with a ballet flat is a great look ­ with either pants or skirts. The trick is a matte opaque texture. Sheer hose with anything other than an evening pump is a huge mistake. Another comfortable footwear option is to go for a preppy look with a loafer or suede moccasin.

If you have a style question for Catherine Franklin, please leave a comment below or send an email to: